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http://zgm.mn/post/3403/

Karin Hulshof: Need to stop burning coal indoors is URGENT

The government could consider introducing a sugar tax. This would help raise revenues to invest in healthy foods for all children

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http://zgm.mn/post/3403/


UNICEF INSTALLED MECHANICAL VENTILATION AND AIR PURIFICATION AND GIZ IMPROVED THE INSULATION OF THE BUILDING OF KINDERGARTEN #63 IN BAYANZURKH DISTRICT, FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY THE SWISS AGENCY FOR DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION (SDC). THIS KINDERGARTEN IS NOW MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT AND HAS CLEANER AIR INSIDE, PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM AIR POLLUTION. THIS SHOULD BECOME STANDARD PRACTICE IN ALL KINDERGARTENS AND UNICEF WILL CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE FOR THIS.

AScience and policy dialogue on combat-ing urban air pollution impacts on maternal and child health in Asia took place in Ulaanbaatar at the start of the so called “smoke season”. This is when the amount of pollutants in Ulaanbaatar’s air reaches it annual peak. ZGM Daily had the chance to sit down with Ms.Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Rуgional Director for East Asia and the Pacific to discuss out-comes of the dialogue and ways Mongolia can utilise to better its air quality.

-Моngolia has made some pro-gress in reducing air pollution, fol-lowing the government’s decision to ban raw coal this year. What’s your verdict on the government’s policies on air pollution reduction?

-In terms of reducing PM2.5 levels, I think we need a few more months data. So far the winter has been mild. We should also keep in mind that even if it would result in a 50% improvement, it would still leave us with very toxic levels of pollution affecting our health. To provide clean air to its citizens, the government has to rapidly and com­pletely phase out the burning of any type of coal and other solid fuels in residential areas. I like to quote the UN Secretary General Antonio Gu-terres who said that Asia’s “coal addiction” should end. This will require expanding district heating and strengthening the electric grid, much better insulation, and proper pricing of energy. Especially insu­lation of people’s homes has been neglected far too long. I really hope the government will come up with a very ambitious plan and deliver the result within the next 5 years.

-Although we have witnessed reduction in presence of partic-ulate matters in the air, the fact that the amount of NO2, SO2 and CO is increasing is not receiving the attention it deserves. A 2005 study conducted in India, New Delhi had proven that NO2, among the other six types of air pollut-ants identified by the WHO is the most harmful to human health. Yet, the amount of this pollutant in Ulaanbaatar has been kept at 2-3 times higher levels than previous years. You have served as UNICEF representative in India. What can Mongolia learn from the policies India implemented in terms of re-ducing NO2, SO2 and CO?


-The main sources of air pollution in India are different from Mongolia. In India, it is a combination of indus­try, traffic, burning of urban and ag­ricultural waste, and the use of solid fuels for cooking. In Mongolia, the air pollution is by far dominated by the burning of coal for heating. As a re­sult, PM2.5 is clearly the most harm­ful pollutant in the context of Mon­golia. I am however very concerned about the high number of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with the use of the refined coal (enhanced coal briquettes). This is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can deplete the fetus from oxygen which can affect the development of the fetus in many ways and can increase the risk of a miscarriage. It again highlights the urgency to stop burning coal indoors. We have to imagine the im­pact of air pollutions on every child.

-A Science and policy dialogue on combating urban air pollution impacts on maternal and child health in Asia recently conclud-ed successfully in Ulaanbaatar. What’s your take on the results of the forum?


-This dialogue brought together some of the world’s top scientists and policy makers from Mongolia and from across the region and the world. We learned that there is in-creasing evidence that air pollution affects fertility. On the positive side, there is also evidence that air purifiers, when correctly used, can contribute to better birth outcomes. Policymakers brought solutions and knowledge from their countries and discussed potential collaborations at the regional level. It was clear that the health sector needs to get much stronger involved. Mongolia shared with other countries what the health sector can do in terms of awareness raising and strength­ening health services for vulnera­ble children. The Ministry of Health with the support from the Ministry of Finance is providing pneumonia vaccines to children which makes them less sensitive to air pollution. Also, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health are rolling out a training programme on air pollution and maternal and child health, to fur-ther educate health practitioners.

-Child health depends on adults. Could you give examples of good experience from the workshops or seminars for adults to help raise their children healthy?


-Indeed, parents play a critical role in a child’s health and devel­opment. Parents should play with their children, read books with them and make sure they get healthy di­ets and their vaccinations on time. Мany governments and companies have already started to adopt family-friendly policies and proce-dures including paid maternal and parental leave, paid sick-leave, breastfeeding breaks, quality childcare and child benefits. Now we need commitment to implemen­tation. Family­friendly policies are not just the right thing to do, but also the smart and equitable thing to do for the economy and the society.

-What other things have you achieved other than attending the forum during your visit in Mongolia? How many high-lev-el meetings have you attended? Can we expect positive outcomes regarding child labor, children’s and maternal health following your visit?


-In all my conversations I high­lighted that this year the world is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mongolia has made very good progress. There are more children surviving than ever before, there are more children in school than ever before. There are also unfin­ished business and emerging is­sues to address. I visited Kinder­garten #63 in Bayanzurkh District where UNICEF installed mechanical ventilation and air purification and GIZ improved the insulation of the building, financially supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This kindergarten is now more energy efficient and has cleaner air inside, protect­ing children from air pollution. The teachers, children and parents were very happy. This should become standard practice in all kindergar­tens and UNICEF will continue to advocate for this. I had the hon­or to meet the Minister of Health Mrs D.Sarangerel. I truly appreciate her leadership and commitment to advance the air pollution related agenda in her capacity of Member of the Parliament. I also had the opportunity to facilitate a produc­tive meeting between UNICEF and the Governments of Mongolia and China to explore possible South­South Cooperation. We discussed potential concrete opportunities to collaborate in the field of air pollu­tion and maternal and child health, such as knowledge exchange, joint research and technology exchange. I also had a very good meeting with the Minister of Education Mr. Yo Baatarbileg. We agreed on the need to invest more in improving the quality of learning, improving water, sanitation and hygiene in kindergar­tens and schools, and addressing climate change. With support from our partners such as ChildFund Korea and KOICA, UNICEF will provide technical assistance on those issues and I expect good results moving forward.

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MRPAM revokes another 28 mining licenses in October

Economists raise concerns over a mass anti-mining act by the Government of Mongolia, saying it may carry potential risk for the foreign investment environmen

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Atotal of 28 mineral licenses were revoked in October, according to the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia (MRPAM), of which 12 licenses were expired and 16 were dismissed due to the license payment. This follows revocation of 39 licenses in the prior month. In 2019, the government is pursuing a strict policy on mineral licenses. Economists raise concerns over a mass anti-mining act by the Government of Mongolia, saying it may carry potential risk for the foreign investment environment. In August alone, 25 licenses, including Soumber Licenses of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (SRG), have been withdrawn due to environmental destruction. Specifically, Soumber Licenses have been terminated pursuant to Clause 56.1.5 of Article 56 of the Minerals Law, Clauses 4.2.1 and 4.2.5 of Article 4 and Clause 28.1.1 of Article 28 of the General Administrative Law and a decision order of a working group established under an order of the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia. According to this decision order, the working group determined that SGS had violated its environmental reclamation obligations with respect to the Soumber Deposit. In 2017-2019, 254 lawsuits filed on revocation, extension, and exploration of license application, and cases regarding the termination of the mining license made more than half of them. As of October 2019, 63 companies have been selected, 58 exploration licenses were issued by the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority, and five licenses are in discussion. Also, 2020 State Budget for mineral license fees is estimated to be at MNT 36 billion.

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Bilguun: Minerals royalty may burden entities

Parliament should conclude and make the environmentto pay royalty as soon as possible

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In 2018, the GDP increase of Mongolia was 7.2 percent. But it decreased by 0.9 percentage point, to 6.3 percent in 2019.

CEO of BIMG, Bilguun Ankhbayar sat down with the Official Gazette. He believes that the amendments to the Constitution of Mongolia may carry positive change in the economy and the mining sector.

-Parliament recently approved amendments to the Constitution. It enacted Article that stated, “Natural resource is the state and public property.” How will it affect the mining sector?

-I expect positive results from it. As previously stated in the Constitution, natural resources belonged to the state, and now it shall be the wealth of the public as well. I assume there is no negative consequence in it. The key changes in the Constitution have been made to stabilize the investment climate. I believe eliminating overlap of legislative and executive branches is relatively good for solid governance since foreign investors will come to a well­governed country. Thus, four members of the Cabinet are allowed to join the Parliament. It is hoped that those who are familiar with the sector will work in the government.

-Change in Minerals Royalty fee is currently in discussion. What is your view on it?


-Well, the case proves that the mining sector is not working properly. Companies pay a portion of their gains from using natural resources for Minerals fee. There is no need to address this issue of whether to pay a royalty or not. Mining companies agree to pay this fee. However, there is a disagreement over whether payments are high or low. Parliament should conclude and make the environment to pay royalty as soon as possible.

-According to the National Statistics Office, Mongolia’s GDP has increased by 6.3 percent in the third quarter. What do you think the main driver of it?


-In 2018, the GDP increase of Mongolia was 7.2 percent. But it decreased by 0.9 percentage point, to 6.3 percent in 2019. There are several factors that may have triggered it to decline. Firstly, export revenue has dropped, especially, prices of copper and coking coal have fallen due to the trade war. Secondly, FDI has declined respectively since the beginning of 2019. Finally, the inflation rate has reached 7.6 percent in the third quarter, but the Bank of Mongolia has set the target level at 8 percent. In other words, it shows the country’s lack of fulfillment on its inflation plan.

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ACM annuls former PM decree on Dubai agreement

Oyu Tolgoi, a copper-gold mine in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, holds one of the largest undeveloped high-grade copper deposits in the world.

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Administrative Court of Mongolia (ACM) annulled Former Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed’s order No.27, 99 and 123 on the 2015 Dubai Agreement. The document covers the costly and several times delayed underground expansion of Oyu Tolgoi (OT). Darkhan Mongol Nogoon Negdel NGO had requested ACM to invalidate Saikhanbileg’s order, considering it violated the law. The court decision confirms that the deal was signed illegally and the Dubai agreement has become invalid. However, the Government of Mongolia has the right to appeal to the ACM decision. Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the 34 percent shareholder of OT declined to give specific information on the matter. Amongst Mongolians, the Dubai deal refers to an agreement on the pathway forward for starting development of the underground mine, which was signed by representatives of the government of Mongolia, Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill Resources at a meeting held in Dubai in May 2015. Oyu Tolgoi was launched in 2009 after an investment agreement granted Mongolia its share and the rest to Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines, now the Rio Tinto-controlled Turquoise Hill Resources. Oyu Tolgoi, a copper-gold mine in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, approximately 550 km south of the capital Ulaanbaatar, holds one of the largest undeveloped high-grade copper deposits in the world. Between 2010 and the third quarter of 2019, OT spent over USD three billion on national procurement, of which USD 523 million was spent on procurement from Umnugovi province. The company signed MNT 2.7 billion contract to purchase 5,000 locally made standard leather safety boots from Khos Az LLC for the next three years. Following the opening of the two new factories in Manlai soum, 64 new jobs were created.







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Economy grows 6.3 percent as service sector increases

Service sector accounted for 2.9 percentage points or 40 percent of the growth, while mining sector growth made about 1.5 percentage points or 24 percent of the GDP rise.

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THE MINING SECTOR GROWTH MADE ABOUT 1.5 PERCENTAGE POINTS OR 24 PERCENT OF THE GDP RISE. SERVICE SECTOR INCLUDES TRADE, TRANSPORTATION, AND COMMUNICATION SECTORS, WHICH DEPEND ON THE MINING SECTOR, SHOWING THAT MONGOLIA’S ECONOMY IS STILL ENCOURAGED BY THE GROWTH IN MINING.

As of first nine months of 2019, Mongolia’s GDP at 2010 constant price increased 6.5 percent, to MNT 13.7 trillion, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO). This was mainly due to increases in the service sector which accounted for 2.9 percentage points or 40 percent of the growth.

The mining sector growth made about 1.5 percentage points or 24 percent of the GDP rise. Service sector includes trade, transportation, and communication sectors, which depend on the mining sector, showing that Mongolia’s economy is still encouraged by the growth in mining. In terms of the largest mining companies’ performance, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC exported 12.6 million tons of coal in the first 10 months and Energy Resource LLC 4.2 million tons of coal. Coal exports have reached 32.3 million tons, a 5 percent increase from the same period of last year.Thus, 524 national companies have supplied their products and services to Oyu Tolgoi (OT) LLC during the reporting period. OT spent USD 329 million on national procurement and the construction of Shaft 2 at the Oyu Tolgoi mine has been declared complete.The World Bank highlighted in its report in October, “In Mongolia, growth momentum has continued in the first half of 2019, as GDP rose to 7.3 percent from 6.8 percent in 2018. This robust performance has largely been supported by a strong coal sector and increased private investment. However, the report cautions of the risks including political uncertainty, commodity price shocks, cross border bottlenecks, implementation delay mega projects and slower implementation of banking sector reforms.”In addition to the main economic indicators, inflation has also declined. Consumer price index (CPI) at the national level, which increased 9 percent in September, rose 7.6 percent in October. In October 2019, a 5.1 percent increase in CPI from the end of the previous year was mainly due to increases in prices for meat and meat products by 27.4 percent and clothing, cloth and footwear for each group by 5.4 percent and alcoholic beverages, tobacco group by 2.7 percent, respectively.Meat prices have risen by 30 percent year on year, but have dropped by about 4 percent in October, compared to the previous month. However, the inflation rate in Ulaanbaatar is 8.5 percent, which exceeds the Bank of Mongolia (BoM)’s target.